by Chris W. Morris
There once was a boy named Jamaal. He grew up like far too many young African American boys in the United States. He never knew his father. He grew up on welfare and food stamps. His mother was a known drug addict and was raised by his grandmother throughout his teenaged years. Jamaal didn’t do well in school. He found it boring and unappealing. He never received any validation or affirmation in the school setting.
The only role models he ever saw were drug dealers, rappers, or athletes. He didn’t aspire to go to college or work a stable profession. He was more interested in becoming the next YouTube or TikTok star. For this reason, he was drawn to the streets. He loved the comradery and validation the street culture provided. He liked the easy money, nice shoes, and cars he saw from those he saw working the drug game.
Although he knew there were risks, to him, it was worth it! Furthermore, Jamaal was fighting a deeply rooted lie that was fed to him from his family, community, and the media. That he was a victim of systemic racism, believing that all his struggles were because of his skin color. In this environment, racism was the cause of nearly every ill. It especially affected his perception of school. One day, Jamaal got into trouble in class. “My teacher is racist,” Jamaal told the principal. “He only ever picks on me in class and he doesn’t like me because I’m black.” Never mind the fact that Jamaal had cussed out and shoved the teacher when asked to remove his hoodie in class.
Jamaal felt racially attacked even though he knew he was out of dress code. But that didn’t matter. “The teacher was just judging me because I wear a hoodie,” Jamaal claimed. Oddly enough, Jamaal’s accusation worked. His principal never questioned Jamaal or searched the matter out. In fact, Jamaal’s teacher was suspended for two weeks. Jamaal’s belief system was reinforced when he and a friend were pulled over by police. His friend had been arrested repeatedly before on drug related charges. But that didn’t matter. Jamaal quickly assumed it was racially motivated. He immediately pulled out his phone and began to record the “INJUSTICE” reinforcing, once again, the world’s out to get me.
Jamaal lived this out throughout his young adult life. It began to morph into a real ideology. He convinced himself that he was racially targeted by almost anyone and everyone who wasn’t black. And he took no responsibility for any of the choices that he made. There was always some white man to blame. He began hearing lectures and politicians begin to echo his sentiments, that all bad things that happened to him were because he was black, not because of his own bad choices. If he was arrested, it was because he was black, not because he committed a robbery. If he was aggressively apprehended by police, it was because he was black, not because he had resisted arrest. Even worse, it seemed more and more of the black collective began to share his ideology. “Black is King,” they announced. “Defund the police.” “The only good cop is a dead cop” became the familiar cry from the culture. More and more young black kids just like Jamaal felt emboldened to do as they please and take out their anger on anyone if they saw a video clip of black person getting shot, even if the victim had initially opened fire.
What’s worse, is that the very word “racism” began to lose its meaning altogether. Suddenly, nobody in the country could agree on what the term really meant. “The systems are racist,” some shouted. “No, only white people are racist”, said others. “A black person can’t be racist,” some thought. A large segment of society had had enough. “They are going to call us racist no matter what we say or do.” They could no longer take any of the claims that black people cried racist as true.
Did racism die? Absolutely not! But its meaning had died. You see, in crying racism in all circumstances, you kill the ability to recognize it when it’s truly present. If people can no longer recognize true racism, you allow it to flourish. The boy who cried “racist” had truly killed a just cause. For the cause cannot live if its meaning has died.